Aim: Compelling evidence implicates inflammation in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and associated vascular complications. Obesity is also characterized by low-grade systemic inflammation. In this study, we characterized the inflammatory response in diabetes by analyzing the expression of a panel of activation markers on the surface of peripheral blood monocytes in recently-diagnosed T1DM patients. The potential effects of glycemic control and of body mass index (BMI) on monocyte phenotype was also investigated. Methods: Using flow cytometry, we analyzed the expression of CD11b, CD49d, CD54, CD62L, and CD64 antigens on monocytes in a cohort of 51 T1DM patients (≤ 2 months after diagnosis). Results: We found that circulating monocytes from T1DM patients tested at the clinical onset of the disease (i.e. within 1 week of diagnosis) had higher CD11b expression compared to patients analyzed 2 months after diagnosis (p = 0.02). The highest CD11b levels were detected in patients with HbA1c > 8% (p = 0.04 vs. patients with HbA1c < 8%). In T1DM children analyzed 2 months after diagnosis, we found that those who were overweight (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) had higher levels of monocyte activation than those who were not overweight (BMI ≤ 85th percentile) (p = 0.03). CD11b and HbA1c were significantly correlated (correlation coefficient 0.329, p = 0.02). Conclusion: Circulating immune cells from T1DM patients display many aspects of a proinflammatory state, as indicated by primed or activated monocytes. Obesity is an important factor in monocyte activation during diabetes.